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The Turkish parliament ratified Sweden’s bid to join NATO this week, a vote that brings Stockholm closer to the 31-member alliance which expanded following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, Politico reported.

Turkey’s ratification comes after 20 months of diplomatic negotiations with Stockholm and Washington. Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022, abandoning its traditional neutrality in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been a holdout against Sweden’s bid, citing Stockholm’s lenient treatment of Kurdish militant groups and members of a network that Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016, World Politics Review noted.

Erdogan’s resistance prompted Western diplomats and officials to focus diplomatic efforts around Turkey. The Turkish leader has also linked the ratification to the US Congressional approval of a Turkish request to purchase 40 new F-16 fighter jets and kits to modernize Turkey’s existing fleet.

Even so, Hungary remains the only NATO member yet to approve Sweden’s accession to the alliance.

Analysts told Politico that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had initially assured Sweden that Budapest would support Stockholm’s bid to join NATO. But Hungary’s approval has been delayed, with observers describing it as “mere grandstanding” by Orban.

Following the Turkish parliament’s vote, Orban said he would “continue to urge” Hungarian legislators to approve Sweden’s bid, according to the New York Times.

The Hungarian leader’s comments, say analysts, were odd, given Orban holds a tight grip on his ruling Fidesz party which enjoys a large majority in parliament.

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